The prairies are expansive, dotted with homesteads and dilapidated barns, but whether you live among them or have just passed through, nothing compares to their innate beauty and wonder. Discover hidden gems, dramatic skies, and relics of the past in "Prairie Stories", a group exhibition featuring paintings with a fresh perspective on the Canadian prairies from Steve Coffey, Doug Crook, Michaela Hoppe, and Mandy van Leeuwen.
Born in Portage la Prairie, Steve Coffey grew up travelling between Manitoba and Alberta, where he later lived. This long, flat drive might torment some, but for Coffey, it is the birthplace of his work. Nostalgia permeates his swirling skies and winding roads as he paints his impressionistic scenes from memory.
Former Winnipegger, Doug Crook, creates brightly coloured paintings that celebrate a wide variety of Canadian landscapes. Since retiring from banking in 2012, he paints in his Calgary studio as well as Nova Scotia in the Summer. Crook's paintings feature shady groves, retired tractors, and historic grain elevators set against bold skies.
Lounging figures steeped in thought appear among lush foliage and rolling plains in Michaela Hoppe's dreamy and novelesque paintings. Based in Saskatchewan, Hoppe is motivated by 'the small hidden places that tell secrets and stories left by people long gone' and the intrinsic charm of the surrounding prairies.
Mandy van Leeuwen creates Contemporary realist paintings in her studio as well as sizeable murals throughout the prairies. She approaches her paintings with 'magical realism', finding inspiration in forgotten spaces and objects. Whether depicting old trailers, still life arrangements, or surreal landscapes, her paintings inspire us with a renewed sense of beauty.
Some may find the prairies desolate, but their wide open spaces hold much more than wind. This wonderful collection of paintings weaves together connections to the past with breathtaking landscapes. For many of us, these are our 'Prairie Stories'.